Georgia On Our Mind: An Election Explanation | Sarah Stook


The focus on the US state of Georgia did not end when the 2020 Presidential election happened. On the 5th January 2021, Georgia voters headed to the polls again in order to choose who will represent them in the US Senate.

Here’s your explanation on the Georgia Senate Race 2021.

Why is America/Georgia the way it is?

During the Senate race that ran concurrently with the Presidential election, no two candidates received the mandatory 50% + 1 vote required to win the majority vote. In Georgia state law, a candidate must reach a majority to win outright.

Each US state has two Senators, regardless of their population. They usually run alternately, with six years as their term, with no limit on how many they serve. 

The Class I race saw all candidates, regardless of affiliation, put all onto one ballot- the top two would go on to be the candidates. Class II had regular primaries for each party. The Republican candidate of Class I was appointed as a Senator after the previous resigned. Republican candidate of Class II is an elected incumbent. 

Who are the candidates?

Class I:

Kelly Loeffler, Republican Incumbent- A graduate of University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and DePaul University, Loeffler spent most of her life in business, eventually becoming a CEO. In 2019, Georgia Senator Johnny Isakon resigned due to illness. As is customary in US politics, the Governor of the state chooses someone to replace them until the next election. Loeffler was not favourite, but still won.

She is a right-wing populist and probably one of the strongest Trump advocates out there. Her strong views on the coronavirus and her anti-China stance have been controversial. Loeffler was also involved in an insider trading scandal related to health stocks and COVID, but was found not guilty. 

Loeffler has been married to Jeffrey Speecher since 2004. 

The Reverend Raphael Warnock, Democrat- Raphael Warnock attended Morehouse College and Union Theological Seminary before becoming his career as a pastor. He eventually became Senior Pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where MLK had worked. Politically, Warnock is best known for his work in favour of Obamacare and increased voter registration.

Warnock is a devoted member of the left, in a similar vein to Bernie Sanders and the so-called Congressional ‘Squad.’ His particular focus is on affordable healthcare for all. 

He denounced Brexit as a project driven by ‘ethnocentrism and hate.’ Warnock’s anti-Israel views are well known, with some accusing him of anti-Semitism due to past comments. Inviting Linda Sarsour to speak also did not help. 

Warnock was married to Oulèye Ndoye from 2016 to 2020. They have two children. 

Class II:

Jon Ossoff, Democrat– Educated at Georgetown and LSE (London School of Economics), Ossoff made his career as an investigative reporter, intermingled with work as a political aide. He failed in a 2017 bid to take a congressional seat.

Ossoff is a moderate who supports progressive ideas such as the minimum wage rising, but opposes defunding ICE and the police. 

He has been married to Alisha Kramer since 2017. She is an OB/GYN.

David Perdue, Republican Incumbent– A Georgia Tech graduate, Perdue has spent many years in business, including being a CEO. He ran for the US Senate in 2014 and won. In the Senate, his notable moments so far have included co-sponsoring an anti-BDS bill, blocking a vote on recognising the Armenian Genocide and co-sponsoring a bill massively limiting immigration.

Perdue is a pro-Trump ally, but nothing on the level of Loeffler. He did initially criticise Trump’s tariffs but later voted for them. Purdue was also involved in the insider trading scandal, but the pursuit was later dropped. 

He married the former Beth Dunne in 1972. Their daughter died in infancy, they have two living sons as well as three grandchildren. His cousin is Agriculture Secretary and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue 

Chances?

Georgia, the home of former President Jimmy Carter, was a Democratic stronghold for many years. It has voted mainly Republican for several elections, choosing Democrat in 1976, 1980, 1992 and 2020. Whilst Georgia was a blue target in 2020, it was a surprise win for the Dems as the Republicans had held it since Clinton’s second term. Many believed it to be due to increased turnout among young and ethnic voters.

Going red after a blue election may seem impossible, but the Republicans did do better than expected down ballot. Georgia has an African-American population of 31.9%. Atlanta, its capital and hub is majority African-America. Rural Georgia is generally rather conservative still.

Each candidate has their problems. Kelly Loeffler’s closeness to Trump, as well as her implication in financial misconduct, has been noted by many. Warlock has been accused of anti-Semitism and his ex-wife has alleged that he’s hurt her intentionally. Perdue was forced to pull a campaign ad believed to be anti-Semitic and had also been marred by financial improprieties. Ossoff has been tied to pro-CCP businesses and was funded by Al Jazeera. 

The Results

Class I Projection- Loeffler 49.3% v Warnock 50.7%

Class II Projection- Perdue 49.72% v Ossoff 50.28%

What Happened?

Georgia Republicans just didn’t turn out. In several usually red areas, the numbers just weren’t as high as they needed to be. 

Some are blaming Trump. His infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, asking him to find 11,780 votes that he believed would get him to win the state. Add this to his assertions that the election was rigged and you have a base that is a little more reluctant to vote.

The voter turnout efforts of Stacey Abrams, the failed gubernatorial candidate, have been praised by Democrats. Georgia is a state with a large number of African-American and other ethnic voters, many of whom are not registered. Abrams and several organisations did a drive to increase Democrat voters in the state, which clearly paid off both in the presidential and senate elections.

What does it mean?

This means the Democrats have control of the House of Representatives (though by a slimmer margin than last time) and technical control of the Senate. The Republican Party has 50 seats and the Democrats 48, but the two independent members, Angus King (I-ME) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), both caucus with the Dems. As Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will provide the tie breaking vote, that means there is control of the Senate for the blues. 

That doesn’t mean Biden is going to get everything through- party members don’t always stay in voting lines, especially with ideological differences. One such example is Senator Joe Manchin. He’s a Democrat in a very red state, and is also fairly conservative for a member of his party. Manchin is a pro-life member of the NRA, has voted to defund Planned Parenthood and Obamacare and has supported most of Trump’s nominees. There is no way they can rely on Manchin for votes on progressive issues such as federal healthcare. 

We imagined that the key states in the election would be Arizona, Florida or Ohio, not The Peach State. It seems Georgia will forever be on our minds.

They should have kept the monarchy really.


Photo Credit.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *